Governor Dannel Malloy said Connecticut is expecting an influx of people from Puerto Rico and the first direct flight from the island arrived at Bradley International Airport on Friday afternoon.
Puerto Ricans make up nearly 8 percent of Connecticut's population. Gov. Malloy said the state is anticipating more from Puerto Rico at a news conference at the United Way of Connecticut in Rocky Hill.
"It's important that we prepare ourselves and our communities for what could be that influx," he said.
Malloy said their reasons could include that their homes have been destroyed, there's no water or schools aren't operating.
"We've been in constant communication with FEMA and the Red Cross," Malloy said. "We certainly understand here in the State of Connecticut with 250,000 residents who have direct ties to Puerto Rico that in all probability we will see an influx of folks who are leaving Puerto Rico for a number of reasons."
There were emotional reunions as the first of Bradley International Airport's direct flights from the island resumed on Friday.
Dafney Rolon said her mother survived the hurricane, but it took a week and a half to find out if she was even alive.
"A lot of emotion...I can't talk," Rolon said as she wrapped her arms around her mother.
Dafney's mother is just one of more than 100 who boarded the first direct flight after the hurricane, from San Juan to Hartford on Friday. Because of language barriers, she had Dafney describe the island she left behind.
"Everything is bad. No help, no food, no water. Even now," Rolon said.
That's why Dafney had to bring her mom to Connecticut.
"We don't want her to go back. We tried to put my dad on but they didn't have space on the flight," Rolon said.
People from the Red Cross and United Way were stationed at the airport and ready to help get these American citizens back on their feet.
"She needs medicine, she needs food, she needs everything," Rolon said.
Friday's direct flight was the first since Maria. This used to be a daily route, but right now, the San Juan Airport is still being repaired, so this will be a twice a week service with more flights being added as conditions improve. If you have someone coming in and need advice or help, you are urged to call 211.
Malloy said Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and other states are also preparing for it, whether it be temporary or permanent.
Malloy also said they revised a plan that was put in place around the time of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when Connecticut saw an influx of people from those states come up north.
"While we have no idea how many people will come to are state, we know people are already arriving," he said. "We are prepared to respond and provide assistance to those new arrivals."
This comes as lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $36.5 billion measure to replenish government disaster aid funds for the island.
The Senate will take up the bill next week.
Maria hit Puerto Rico three weeks ago and officials said people continue to struggle to find clean water. They said hospitals are running low on medicine and the power grid has not yet been restored.
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